Pakistan's parliament condemns bin Laden raid
Pakistan's parliament condemned Saturday the U.S. raid to find and kill Osama bin Laden, calling for a review of U.S. ties and warning that Pakistan could cut supply lines to American forces in Afghanistan if there were more such attacks.
Pakistan's intelligence chief was cited as saying he was ready to resign over the bin Laden affair, which has embarrassed the country and led to suspicion that Pakistani security agents knew where the al Qaeda chief was hiding.
Friday, two suicide bombers attacked a military academy in a northwestern town killing 80 people in what Pakistani Taliban militants said was their first act of revenge for bin Laden's death on May 2.
The secret U.S. raid on bin Laden's lair in the garrison town of Abbottabad, 50 km (30 miles) north of Islamabad, has strained already prickly ties with the United States.
It has also led to domestic criticism of the government and military, partly because bin Laden had apparently remained undetected in Pakistan for years, but also because of the failure to detect or stop the U.S. operation to get him.
"Parliament ... condemned the unilateral action in Abbottabad which constitutes a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty," it said in a resolution issued after security chiefs briefed legislators.
Pakistan has dismissed as absurd any suggestion that authorities knew bin Laden was holed up in a high-walled compound near the country's top military academy.
The U.S. administration has not accused Pakistan of complicity in hiding bin Laden but has said he must have had some sort of support network, which it wants to uncover.
Pakistan has a long record of using Islamist militants as proxies, especially to counter the influence of nuclear-armed rival, India.
Members of the two houses of parliament said the government should review ties with the United States to safeguard Pakistan's national interests and they also called for an end to U.S. attacks on militants with its pilotless drone aircraft.
They also called for an independent commission to investigate the bin Laden case.
Pakistan officially objects to the drone attacks, saying they violate its sovereignty and feed public anger, although U.S. officials have long said they are carried out under an agreement between the countries.
The legislators said U.S. "unilateral actions" such as the Abbottabad raid and drone strikes were unacceptable, and the government should consider cutting vital U.S. lines of supply for its forces in Afghanistan unless they stopped.
Hours earlier, a U.S. drone fired missiles at a vehicle in North Waziristan on the Afghan border killing five militants.
It was the fourth drone attack since bin Laden was killed.
Police in Charsadda said they had recovered for analysis body parts of the two bombers who struck at the gates of a paramilitary force academy in the town of Charsadda as recruits were pouring out to go on leave.
A Taliban spokesman said Friday the attack was in revenge for bin Laden's death and vowed there would be more.
"Obviously, they are involved as it's only them who can carry out such suicide bombings. No-one else can do it," said senior police officer Jehanzeb Khan.
Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of the military's main Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, told parliament in a closed-door briefing he was "ready to resign" over the bin Laden affair, a legislator said.
Pasha, who was asked tough questions by some members of parliament, told the assembly he did not want to "hang around" if parliament deemed him responsible, legislator Riaz Fatyana told reporters.
"I am ready to resign," Fatyana quoted the ISI chief as saying.
The embarrassment over bin Laden has given the civilian government an opportunity to exert greater control over the powerful military establishment, which largely determines security and foreign policy.
Opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said civilian leaders, not the security agencies, should be deciding policy toward India, the United States and Afghanistan.
"The elected government should formulate foreign policy. A parallel policy or parallel government should not be allowed to work," Sharif told a news conference.
Despite such calls, analysts say the weak and unpopular government, beset by chronic economic problems, looks unlikely to challenge the military for greater control.
On relations with the United States, Pakistan says there has been a breakdown in trust and in a sign of the chill in ties, the chairman of Pakistan's joint chiefs of staff committee, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, canceled a five-day visit to the United States that had been set to begin on May 22.
[Source: By Zeeshan Haider, Reuters, Islamabad, 14May11]
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